1,2-dichloroethane is used to make vinyl chloride, and chlorinated solvents (trichloroethane, trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene, and vinylidene). The solvents are used to remove grease, resins, glue and dirt. It is used as a solvent in the manufacture of polystyrene and SBR latex. It is added to leaded petrol as an anti-knock compound.
Substance name: 1,2-dichloroethane
CASR number: 107-06-2
Molecular formula: C2H4Cl2
Synonyms: Ethylene dichloride; Ethylene chloride; glycol dichloride; Freon 150; Dutch liquid; Dutch oil; 1,2-Ethylidene dichloride; Ethane dichloride; 1,2- Ethylene dichloride; alpha, beta-dichloride; 2-dichloroethane dichlor-1,2-ethane; dichloroethylene
1,2-dichloroethane is a clear, thick liquid that has a pleasant odour.
Melting Point: -35.3°C
Boiling Point: 83.5°C
Specific Gravity: 1.253
Vapour Density: 3.4
Flashpoint Point: 13°C
1,2-dichloroethane is volatile at room temperature. It is slightly soluble in water and soluble in most organic solvents.
The National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) holds data for all sources of 1,2-dichloroethane emissions in Australia.
1,2-dichloroethane may irritate the eyes, nose and throat. It may cause eye problems, headache, feelings of drunkenness, fatigue, central nervous system depression, convulsions, pulmonary oedema (excessive fluid in the lungs), unconsciousness and death from respiratory and cardiac failure. It may also defat the skin, causing skin irritation. Long-term exposures may cause damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and adrenal glands.
Entering the body
1,2-Dichloroethane will enter the body if we breathe in contaminated air, or drink contaminated water. 1,2-dichloroethane can also pass through your skin.
Workers in the industries that use or produce 1,2-dichloroethane are at risk of exposure. Consumers can be exposed to 1,2-dichloroethane by exposure to leaded fuels, or by exposure to air from production and processing facilities using 1,2-dichloroethane. The most significant route of exposure to 1,2-Dichloroethane for most members of the general public is through breathing air contaminated with it or drinking contaminated water (especially bore water).
Workplace exposure standards
Safe Work Australia sets the workplace exposure standard for 1,2-dichloroethane through the workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants:
- Maximum eight hour time weighted average (TWA): 10 parts per million (40 mg/m3)
These standards are only appropriate for use in workplaces and are not limited to any specific industry or operation. Make sure you understand how to interpret the standards before you use them.
Drinking water guidelines
The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines include the following guidelines for acceptable water quality:
- Maximum of 0.003 milligrams per litre of water for health purposes
1,2-dichloroethane has slight acute (short-term) toxicity and slight chronic (long-term) toxicity to aquatic life. It has caused injury to woody trees. 1,2-dichloroethane is not expected to concentrate in fish. Insufficient data are available to predict the effects of 1,2-dichloroethane on birds or land animals.
Entering the environment
Industrial emissions of 1,2-dichloroethane can produce elevated, but still low level concentrations in the atmosphere around the source, and travel for long distances. Motor vehicles, using leaded petrol, may also produce elevated levels of 1,2-dichloroethane in areas of higher traffic. Spills or to the ground may lead to 1,2-dichloroethane leaching into the groundwater. In the groundwater 1,2-dichloroethane may contaminate bores or other water supplies.
Where it ends up
1,2-dichloroethane is a persistent pollutant in the atmosphere that can be transported long distances. In the atmosphere it will be degraded into other chemicals (CO2 and HCl), in 30 to 300 days. When released to water 1,2-dichloroethane will evaporate into the air. When spilled or applied to land 1,2-dichloroethane, that does not evaporate, may leach into the groundwater. 1,2-dichloroethane is persistent in the ground and groundwater. It may last for years as there is little degradation by microbes. It is not expected to bioaccumulate. 1,2-dichloroethane is a volatile organic compound (VOC) and will contribute to smog. One of the products of degradation from it, HCl, will be a contributor to acid wet deposition (acid rain, fog, dew etc.).
No national guidelines.
Refineries making leaded petrol, plastics manufacturing facilities, chemical manufacturing facilities, paint and varnish manufacturing facilities. Almost all of these emissions are to the air.
Diffuse sources, and industry sources included in diffuse emissions data
Additional locations that may release 1,2-dichloroethane are manufacturers of metal parts (degreasing), manufacturers of medical supplies, use of paints and varnish containing 1,2-dichloroethane. These emissions are to the air.
1,2-dichloroethane does not occur naturally in the environment.
Motor vehicle emissions, from automobiles using leaded petrol.
Leaded petrol contains 1,2-dichloroethane. 1,2-dichloroethane may be found in some cleaning agents (rug and upholstery), in resin and rubber adhesives, and in some paint, varnish and finish removers.
Sources used in preparing this information
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (1997), Public Health Statement, 1,2-Dichloroethane (accessed, May, 1999)
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (1997), ToxFAQS, 1,2-Dichloroethane (accessed, May, 1999)
- Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) (1992), Australian Water Quality Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Waters.
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- US Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (May, 1998), Unified Air Toxics Website, 1,2-dichloroethane (accessed, May, 1999)
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- Worksafe Australia (1996), Hazardous Substance Ethylene dichloride (accessed, May, 1999)
- Safe Work Australia, Workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants, accessed June 2021.
- National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (2011) - Updated October 2017, accessed May 2018